The 7th grain importing country, the urgent need for countermeasures such as public stockpiling in Korea


Economy insight
graphic news l Grain Importing Countries Ranking

Instability in supply and demand for grain is increasing worldwide due to meteorological disasters caused by the climate crisis and restrictions on global logistics movement due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ‘International Grain Early Warning Index’, which indicates the global grain supply and demand crisis, such as food and feed, has already recorded 0.96 in March 2021, reaching the 4th stage of crisis management ‘severe’. This index is divided into four levels: stable (below 0.0), caution (0.0-0.5), vigilant (0.5-1.0), and severe (1.0 or higher). Despite these red flags, our society’s awareness of grain supply and demand is very low. This is due to the high rice self-sufficiency rate of 92~105% in Korea. However, this is only an illusion of food self-sufficiency. The lifestyle of Koreans has changed a lot, and rice has lost its status as a staple food for a long time. Above all, Korea relies on imports for a significant portion of its major grains, including wheat, soybeans, and corn. According to statistics released by the National Assembly Budget Office in the ‘Policy Analysis of Grain Supply and Demand Stabilization Project’ in October 2021, Korea is the 7th largest importer of grain in the world. As of 2019, it was found that Korea relied on imports for 15.58 million tons of total domestic grain demand of 21.04 million tons. This means that more than 70% of the grain consumed in Korea is purchased from abroad. Countries that import more grain than Korea are China, Japan, Mexico and Egypt. Moreover, Korea relies on large grain distributors for most of its imports, the four major grain majors called ‘ABCD’ (ADM in the US, Bungi in Brazil, Cargill in the US, LDC in France). Therefore, the Ministry of Budget and Policy pointed out in the report that there is an urgent need to prepare a system to respond to food security on a regular basis, including measures to stabilize the supply and demand of grain. Specifically, it was recommended that the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs have a department in charge of food security to prepare a response strategy and introduce a public stockpile system in which the government purchases and stocks a certain amount of grain in preparation for a food crisis. Chang-Gon Lee Deputy Editor-in-Chief [email protected]

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